Friday, September 3, 2010

Niagara Frontier Masonic Lodge #132

(click image for larger photo)

When you drive down Walnut Avenue and reach Main St. you probably don't even notice the vacant lot on the left hand corner. You might be familiar with the medical offices at 549-4th St which Drs. Brezing built and occupied until they retired. Well that vacant lot used to be occupied by a rather magnificent building that housed the Niagara Frontier Masonic Lodge #132 and was the site of many fraternal and social events. The building interior was resplendent with dark walnut paneling and woodwork. There was an old-fashioned, operate it yourself elevator in side the main door that took you to the upper floors. The first floor held offices and a wonderful game room, complete with many beautiful pool and billiard tables as well as plush leather easy chairs and couches. This was the epitome of a men's club (it was a male only fraternity).

The second floor held a large kitchen and dining hall and was the location where "House Parties" were held. House parties were special nights when the whole family was welcomed and kids could play pool and ping pong, and parents could dance the evening away to the sounds of wonderful live orchestras. Food was also on the menu those nights and some of us kids got our biggest kicks out of playing elevator operator.

The third floor held the Fraternity meeting room and we were only allowed to view it. The Masonic Order has always been thought of a "secret society," and their meetings were for members only. However, it was obvious to us kids that something wonderful must occur in the meeting room because they had giant thrones and other accoutrements signifying some mysterious goings-on must happen on the third floor.

With declining membership, the Lodge couldn't handle the upkeep of such a large building so it was sold and subsequently torn down. Another shameful loss of an historical and magnificent structure in our city. Currently, the lodge meets at a former church on Colvin Blvd. but even that is up for sale.

Submitted by Jim Brunn